Prarie Whale Front

Hanging in Great Barrington’s NoRo

Over the last year or so, NoRo – the northern section of Great Barrington’s Main Street has really taken off, with the opening of some super cool businesses & a really great restaurant.  I’m referring to the section of Main Street that’s just north of Rosseter Street (get it – NoRo?). To me, NoRo, with its new, fun & creative businesses truly embodies what’s been termed the New Berkshires.  Here are 3 of my favorite places to go in NoRo:

Prairie Whale Restaurant

If you’re looking for awesome farm-to-fork dining, Prairie Whale Restaurant, located at 178 Main Street, Great Barrington, is your place. Mark Firth (co-founder of Diner, Marlow & Sons & Marlow & Daughters, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn) & wife Bettina Schwartz opened Prairie Whale in 2013 (it was originally called Bell & Anchor). Prairie Whale has been a huge draw to locals & weekenders alike. The menu has so many great great choices & includes awesome meat, poultry, seafood & vegetarian options. You can’t get more locavore than Prairie Whale. Many of the vegetables come directly from the restaurant’s own vegetable garden (when you’re there, walk out back & check it out) & from Mark & Bettina’s farm in nearby Monterey.  And, yes, they’re even raising their own lambs & pigs now. Our personal menu favorites are the Brick Chicken, Duck Confit, Burgers, Tuna Tartare & Kale Salad. Because everything is sourced locally, the seasonal menu changes frequently. The other night we had the crostini with local goat cheese, mint & roasted peaches as an appetizer – off the charts delicious! Their salads are also super fresh & tasty. And, they’ve got a great bar with seating that offers a full range of wine & cocktails along with several locally brewed craft beers on tap – including Wandering Star Brewing Company & Glass Bottom Brewery.

Prairie Whale Front

Farm to Fork in NoRo

What we especially love about Prairie Whale is that its got a super fun vibe. There’s plenty of outdoor seating, a ping pong table & yes, corn hole! (If you don’t know what the heck corn hole is, you’ll have to pay a visit & learn. No cheating & checking Wikipedia!).  We always bump into friends at the bar, some of them the very farmers who supply the restaurant’s produce or local artists who are part of the Berkshires burgeoning art scene. And, Prairie Whale also has live music some evenings (check the link above to confirm) by great local band The Lucky Five.

Griffin

When I first walked in to Griffin, located at 177 Main Street (across from Prairie Whale), I was super excited to see such a fun, stylish shop right here in Great Barrington. Owners Connie Griffin & partner (in life & business) Paul Giroux feature so many unique clothing items for adults & kids, great shoes & super cool, one-of-a-kind furniture pieces. They’ve also got a nice vinyl collection for sale. And, while you’re there, be sure to check out their art gallery next door to the shop.

Griffin 4

Great one-of-a-kind clothing at Griffin

Griffin 3

NoRo’s Griffin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LabSpace

What’s amazed me about the Berkshires since moving here is the number of amazing local artists with their fun, funky & often thought provoking work. In the past, the work of these artists was rarely exhibited or sold within the Berkshires. I’m happy to report that Susan Jennings & Slink Moss co-owners of LabSpace, located at 177 Main Street (across from Prairie Whale) are helping to change that with their new gallery, LabSpace. You owe it to yourself to stop into Lab Space – where you can admire work by super talented local artists like Huckleberry Delsignore or to catch one of their special events (check website above for schedule).

LabSPace

LabSpace’s Current Exhibit

See you out in NoRo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pink & White

Awesome Art & Dining in Columbia County

One of the great things about living & vacationing in the Massachussets Berkshires is that you get the triple benefit of not just the Massachusetts Berkshires, but also what’s often referred to as the neighboring New York Berkshires & Connecticut Berkshires. The NY Berkshires, in Columbia County, is chock full of arts & culture, outdoor activities & amazing food & restaurants. One of of our favorite Columbia County day trips from West Stockbridge is to the OMI International Arts Center in Ghent, with a dinner stop afterward in Philmont, NY.

OMI has a fantastic, fun & whimsical outdoor sculpture park & there’s nothing like walking around & exploring the the grounds on a nice day. While we enjoy all of the sculptures, our kids’ go-to favorite has been  “A Simple Network of Underground Wells & Tunnels” as they can actually climb down ladders into the sculpture & crawl through it. In addition to OMI’s sculpture park, they’ve got rotating indoor exhibits at the Visitors Center & Gallery  –  a stunning building that also features a great cafe.  And, if you’re up in the Berkshires this weekend, OMI is having its Season Opening Exhibition on June 13 & 14.

We're IN the sculpture!

Yes…we’re INSIDE the sculpture!

 

After you’re done strolling around the OMI grounds & have worked up an appetite, I suggest heading for dinner at one of our two favorite Columbia County restaurants  – both located in Philmont, NY.  Philmont is a short 15 minute or so drive from OMI.  The Main Street Public House Pub, located 12 Main Street (Route 217) has awesome pub style food with a great selection of microbrew beers on tap.  On the first Friday of each month, they serve a great fish & chips special. Their burgers, made with locally sourced beef from nearby Kinderhook Farm (another great place to visit – but I’ll cover that in a separate blog post) are also off the charts.  Note – the Pub takes cash only.

Main St. Public House

If you’re up for something a bit more upscale (yet not the least bit pretentious), I strongly recommend Local 111, which is at 111 Main Street, just up the hill from the Main Street Public House Pub. Josephine Proul, who’s been the super creative executive chef at Local 111 for the past six years just purchased the restaurant. The menu has something for everyone & covers the the rich bounty provided by the wealth of local farms in the surrounding Hudson Valley. Local 111 has a great wine selection & we just love the vibe & ambience there.

Local 111

Local 111

Enjoy your day in Columbia County & happy eating in Philmont!